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Defense matters, just ask Juan Lagares

Juan Lagares #12 of the New York Mets takes a home run away from Jayson Werth #28 of the Washington Nationals during a baseball game on May 17, 2014 at the Nationals Park in Washington, DC
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Juan Lagares has been spectacular this year in the outfield, plain and simple. At present, the Mets center fielder currently ranks 12th in the majors and 6th in the National League in wins above replacement (WAR).

Though Lagares has only 3 home runs and 38 RBIs in 334 AB this year, his fantastic defensive ability has garnered him a 4.9 WAR this season. In the NL, he trails only Giancarlo Stanton, Jason Heyward, Troy Tulowitzki, Jonathan Lucroy, and Johnny Peralta. Meanwhile, he has the same WAR as reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen.

Dodgers star Yasiel Puig, the MLB leader in hits Jose Altuve, and White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu all trail Lagares in this category, which seeks to summarize a players total contribution to his team.

"What exactly is WAR?"

While this statistic may not be without faults and prejudices, it is worth discussing if for no other reason than to highlight just how incredible Lagares has been defensively this season. His Defensive WAR is 3.5, a full 1.3 point highers than any other CF in the game (Lorenzo Cain of the Royals stands at 2.2). Were he to qualify, Lagares' 2.91 range factor would also lead the MLB among all active outfielders. Still, despite missing time to two DL stints, Beyond the Boxscore ranks Lagares among the five best defensive players in baseball.

Often times, fans and pundits alike overlook the defensive aspect of the game in favor of offensive potential. The Mets stuck Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda in the outfield for heaven's sake. The recent call for Wilmer Flores to play every day at shortstop makes this an all too relevant issue. Defense matters and it determines the outcome of ball games.

Lagares' success despite his effortless and casual demeanor is awe-inspiring and well deserving a a Gold Glove. He has been a pleasure to watch this season, and rest be assured, the Flushing faithful are looking forward to having him patrol the vast expanse of Citi Field for years to come.

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